Q What is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay?
A “Baby bottle tooth decay” refers to cavities caused by drinking liquids containing sugar from a baby bottle. The teeth most likely to be damaged by this are the upper front teeth, but other teeth can also be affected. To avoid baby bottle tooth decay, don’t put your child to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water. Other liquids contain varying amounts of sugar ranging from very high amounts (juice drinks) to lower amounts (cow’s milk). Children are also at risk of developing “Baby bottle tooth decay” if they use a bottle or sippy cup for prolonged periods during the day.
Q Are dental x-rays really necessary for my child?
A X-rays (radiographs) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental visit. Without them certain dental conditions can and will be missed. They detect much more than cavities. X-rays may be needed to learn more about erupting teeth, diagnose bone disease, evaluate an injury or plan orthodontic treatment. Missing or extra teeth are commonly found on X-rays. Many times if dental problems are found and treated early, dental care can be more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
Q My teenaged son drinks too much soft drinks. Is sugar free pop safe for teeth?
A It is not only the sugar in the soft drink that contributes to cavities, but just the acidity (even in diet soft drinks) eats away enamel. We know that sugar + acidity + frequency + plaque bacteria = tooth decay. Drinking diet soft drink only addresses one factor. High acidity can be found in many canned and bottled beverages including water or tea with fruit flavoring and many energy drinks. Brushing your teeth immediately after drinking soft drink will not help. Brushing after acid exposure will erode even more enamel. The safest and healthiest beverage is water.
Q Should I be flossing my 4 year old son’s teeth?
A Yes, flossing once a day before brushing removes plaque and food particles that can’t be removed by brushing alone. The dental floss cleans between the teeth and below the gumline. To floss properly, wrap an 45cm strand of floss around your middle fingers leaving a 3 or 4 cm section of floss to work with. Holding the floss tightly between your thumb and index finger, gently ease the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss around the tooth, making sure you go beneath the gumline. Slide the floss up and down several times to clean the tooth. Always remember to floss behind the last tooth.
Q How do dental sealants work?
A Dental Sealants are a plastic coating placed on the biting surface of the teeth. They are very effective in preventing tooth decay. Sealants work by filling in the crevasses on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. This shuts out food particles that could get caught in the teeth, causing cavities. The application is fast and comfortable and can effectively protect teeth for many years.
Q My 10 year old daughter wants to bleach her teeth. At what age is it safe to bleach?
A Enamel discoloration can lead to negative self-image and is a valid reason for bleaching, but you are right to be concerned with safety and the appropriate age to bleach. There are a wide variety of over- the counter or professionally applied products. It is wise to have professional advice before using these in children. There are many reasons for discoloration such as stain, trauma, enamel defects, or tooth complexion.’ The dentist can determine the best method for each situation or possibly spot bleach single teeth. Full arch bleaching is not recommended until after eruption of all permanent teeth and is best done after orthodontics.
Q How much radiation does my child get from dental x-rays?
A Paediatric dentists are particularly careful to minimize the radiation exposure that their young patients receive during dental examinations that involve x-rays. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in dental x-rays is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead aprons and shields will help protect your child. Modern equipment and the newest technology like digital x-rays, high speed films, and filters are designed to help in minimizing even the small amount of radiation that your child will receive.
Q I heard somewhere that if my child has a tooth knocked out in an accident I should put it in milk. Is that true?
A When a child has a permanent tooth knocked out, the most important thing is to put the tooth back in the socket as soon as possible. This should be done immediately if possible by someone at the scene of the accident. The tooth should be picked up by the crown (don’t touch the root) and if dirty it should be quickly rinsed off. Then the tooth should be placed back in the socket and the child should be transported to a dentist who will splint the tooth in place. If it is impossible to get the tooth back into the socket, it is important to store the tooth in a liquid that will keep the cells on the root surface alive. Cold milk is one of the best storage media for this.
Q My child is 10 months old and still doesn’t have any baby teeth. Should I be concerned?
A Children’s teeth begin forming before birth, and begin appearing in the mouth around six months of age. There is a lot of variation in this timing however, with some children getting teeth as early as four months of age, and others not getting their first tooth until after their first birthday. This wide variation is normal. We recommend that your child’s first visit to the dentist be at age one or within six months of the first tooth coming in. At this visit, you can discuss any concerns you have about your child’s teeth, including the delayed emergence.
Q Can you recommend some healthy snacks for my children that won’t cause tooth decay?
A One of the healthiest snacks for your child’s teeth is cheese. Research has shown that Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella stimulate saliva production which protects teeth from acids. Because of this, cheese actually disrupts the development of cavities especially when eaten between meals or immediately following a meal. Other “teeth healthy” snacks include fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and yogurt. For beverages, water and low-fat milk are the healthiest for teeth. Snacks to avoid include sticky candy and sugar-containing drinks such as soft drinks and cordials. If your child is going to eat sweets, it is best to have them eat them with a meal rather than between meals.
Q What are things I should know about teething?
A “Teething” refers to the process when new teeth break through a child’s gums. Many children do not experience difficulties with teething, but some children experience discomfort, irritability, and increased drooling. Home remedies that can help with discomfort include giving your child something to chew, such as a teething ring or a cool damp washcloth, and massaging your child’s gums with your finger. Over-the-counter teething gels can be helpful but they should not be over-used. Follow package instructions carefully. Pain relievers such as ibuprofen can be used for children experiencing significant discomfort. It is important to understand that high fevers and diarrhoea are not normally associated with teething and could be an indication of a systemic problem or an ear infection. You should contact your doctor if your child exhibits these symptoms.
Q When will my child start losing her baby teeth?
A Children usually lose their first baby tooth around age 5 or 6 years, although the timing can vary widely from one child to the next. As baby teeth get ready to fall out, the developing permanent teeth cause the roots of the baby teeth to dissolve. Children usually wiggle the baby teeth loose with their tongues and fingers. By the time the permanent tooth is ready to come in, there is often little holding the baby tooth in place besides a small amount of tissue. If your child wants you to pull out a loose baby tooth, grasp it firmly with a clean tissue or gauze and remove it with a quick twist. Apply gentle pressure to the site with a clean washcloth or gauze to stop any bleeding.
Q When should my child first visit a dentist?
A We recommend that a child have an oral exam within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth but no later than 1 year of age. Although this may seem too early, many children already have dental decay by age 3.